Bahovski: Who is at the helm of Estonian foreign policy? ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Diplomaatia editor-in-chief Erkki Bahovski.
Diplomaatia editor-in-chief Erkki Bahovski. Source: Pärnu Postimees/Scanpix

While Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas has reaffirmed Estonia's continuing on its current foreign policy course, including continued active membership in the EU and NATO, Diplomaatia editor-in-chief Erkki Bahovski finds that the course of Estonia's foreign policy has nonetheless become unclear.

While Prime Minister and Centre Party chairman Jüri Ratas has reaffirmed Estonia's continuing to espouse its current principles, including continued active membership in the EU and NATO, Diplomaatia editor-in-chief Erkki Bahovski finds that the course of Estonia's foreign policy has nonetheless become unclear.

Bahovski acknowledged Ratas' reaffirming that Estonia would remain true to its principles, including EU and NATO membership, cooperation with partners as well as firm stances when it comes to Russia. "But Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) politicians have cast doubt on this not only with their words, but also with their actions," the foreign policy expert said.

"The question is — what is this course?" he continued, referring to Estonia's foreign policy course. "You could also say that yes, it has changed, but it's also a question then of who is at the helm of Estonia's foreign policy? Is it Jüri Ratas, or is it Mart Helme, who presents himself abroad as the deputy prime minister of Estonia, which is not provided for either in the Constitution of Estonia or the coalition agreeent? I'd like to know who is leading the state, who represents Estonia's foreign policy — whether it's Jüri Ratas, [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), [Minister of the Interior] Mart Helme (EKRE) or someone else entirely. Where is foreign policy being developed — at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government Office, the headquarters of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia, online news portal Uued Uudised, or somewhere else? It would be good to gain clarity on this matter."

Toom: Helme good at staying in the spotlight

MEP Yana Toom (Centre/Renew Europe), meanwhile, found that while EKRE chairman Mart Helme's statement was embarrassing, it achieved its goal of getting attention.

"I would interpret Mart Helme's statements as his own personal opinions, although to read them is very embarrassing, and it is very difficult to explain to my colleagues here in the European Parliament what is going on," Toom said. "I believe that Mr Helme is great at one thing, and that is the art of remaining in the spotlight. Every day he makes some kind of statement that is covered extensively in Estonian media."

Regarding the elder Helme's comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union, the MEP commented that the two are not comparable, although there are people who the EU in the same light as the USSR, "And Mart Helme is one of them."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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